Honoring Our Frontline Heroes: Tayler and Mike Kooienga

Tayler Kooienga is a healthcare worker who normally works in an outpatient endoscopy center in Grand Rapids. When that center was put on temporary closure, Tayler called Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Hospital to offer her assistance. It could have been easier or safer to remain home, but Tayler chose to go to the frontlines. She says, “I felt I had to do what I could to help.” It is with this giving, selfless heart that she serves her patients.

During this pandemic, she has worked with men and women fighting against Covid-19. Because she is not ICU certified, she cares for patients once they are off of the ventilator and making progress towards recovery and discharge.

Like Tayler, her husband, Mike, is also in the medical field. Normally, he works in a procedural area of the hospital but has been redeployed to the ICU to assist with the growing volume of patients. While the ICU stays busy, the rest of the hospital seems eerily empty. Saint Mary’s has canceled all elective procedures and surgeries that normally keep these units lively and full. Visitor restrictions also play a big role in the quietness.

While the group of patients have increased in West Michigan, Grand Rapids still hasn’t seen the vast amount of coronavirus cases like that of East Michigan. However, Tayler says that “there is a constant sense of uneasiness about when it will become as bad in this part of Michigan as they are warning us it will.”

One of biggest challenges that Tayler has seen thus far is the emotional taxation that isolation plays in the lives of her patients due to visitor restrictions. Tayler says, “As a nurse, you are one of the only in-person interactions these patients have during their stay. They can call or talk to their loved ones over video chat, but it’s just not the same as having them by your side during a difficult time. I cannot imagine how hard that must be.”

We are continually grateful for the sacrifices that Tayler, Mike, and all other healthcare workers are making to save lives. You are our heroes! We pray for protection and health to surround you as you treat and serve those in the hospital.

In closing, Tayler wanted to say this, “I would like to acknowledge and thank all the people who are putting their lives at risk on a daily basis because what they do is essential and important. We appreciate all your hard work!”
Well said, Tayler. We couldn’t agree more.

~Written By Catie Cordero (A Diverse Global Article)

TO BE WELL

If you had asked me last week, “Catie, are you well?” I would have told you no. 

The weeks leading up to last week were not kind to me. Between a series of rejections, failings, and flare-up of my auto-immune disease, I emotionally collapsed. I did not feel well mentally, emotionally, and physically. I wanted to cave. I wanted to quit. I wanted to be sad. Not a great place to be. I was letting my outward journey determine my inward journey. I was letting disappointments dictate the wellness of my soul. Negative thoughts can be quite alluring in the valleys of life. But what does negative thinking achieve? Nothing. Does it make me feel better? No. But did I feel justified in my negative thoughts–yes. That’s the catch. That is what makes them alluring. I feel I have a right to think negatively and be sad and throw myself a this-isn’t-fair party. So I did. I dwelt in that space for a few weeks. It made me more depressed.

Then, God spoke to my heart and said, “Enough. It’s time to move on.” He, of course, was right. It was time to move on. I cleaned up my office space. I put my storyboard away. I filed all current books-in-progress. I have to stop striving to make things happen that just aren’t happening.

I can’t control my health. I can’t control my publishing career. I can’t control the unknown. But, I can rest in Jesus. I can let go. I have to let go. 

In my last novel, Marvel and Mayhem, my main character, Mattie, wrestles with anger toward the song and belief, “It is Well With My Soul.” She feels that the song was a lie. Life hasn’t been good to her. Each character in Marvel and Mayhem is confronted with hardships on some level and must respond to it–either with resentment or surrender to God. My youngest character in the novel, Effie Emery, understands surrender. She knows that no matter how bad things may get, with the Lord holding our hand through it, we can still say, it is well with my soul.

As you can guess, I’m more like Mattie. Surrender doesn’t come natural to me. But God hasn’t given up on me. I see more clearly now that God called me to write Marvel and Mayhem because He knew I needed to process this journey with Mattie. We are connected, her and I. God has been leading to me a place of relinquishing control and placing my trust in Him.

The lyrics of the old hymn say, “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

I’m still working through this. It doesn’t come natural to me. BUT, I know one thing for sure, I am reaching out and God is reaching back. This is WELL. With Him holding my hand, I can be WELL.

 

If you are interested in my novel, here’s a quick link for more information:

https://amzn.to/2Wv17Oa